Speech by Struan Stevenson
Iranian Liberty Association
27th July 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is great be back again in London to see you. It was also lovely to see so many of you at the huge Rally in Paris on 1st July. What an amazing annual event that is and how exhilarating that this year for the first time, with our brothers and sisters safe in Albania, we were able to focus all of our energies on regime change. I can smell victory in the air. I am certain that the mullahs are now standing on the edge of a cliff and it is our job to give them a hefty push!
I’ve had an interesting 12 months speaking to supporters of the Iranian democratic opposition around the globe. Last October I undertook a 3-week tour of San Francisco, Sacramento, Washington DC, New York, Toronto and Ottawa. In December I visited our brothers and sisters in Tirana, then in February I lectured in Jean Moulin University in Lyon and then went on to meet our supporters in Berlin, where I also spoke in the Bundestag. In April I met our supporters in Oslo and spoke in the Norwegian Parliament and then had a hectic tour of Iranian resistance supporters in Hamburg, Cologne, Bonn and Stuttgart. In between times, Hossein and Masoud keep me busy coming to meetings like this in London, so there is never a dull moment!
In all of these meetings I have used the opportunity to tell our supporters about the dangerous and destructive role of the Iranian regime in the Middle East and the systematic violation of human rights across the zone that characterizes their aggressive attempts to spread Islamic fundamentalism. Indeed under the auspices of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) that I chair, I held a press conference in the House of Commons at the beginning of March, to mark the release of a comprehensive report detailing the belligerent activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and calling for their listing as international terrorists.
Our report showed how the IRGC and the body responsible for extra-territorial operations - the terrorist Quds Force, are the main vehicles for Iran’s aggressive expansionism in the Middle East. The IRGC has for decades been carrying out terrorist attacks across the zone, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
Over the past six years the world has witnessed in horror how the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has massacred his own people, even using chemical weapons like Sarin gas to murder innocent men, women and children, while enjoying unlimited financial and military support from Iran and air cover from the Russians. President Hassan Rouhani’s hysterical reaction to the US missile attack ordered in retaliation by Donald Trump exposed just how frightened the theocratic regime has become. Nevertheless Iran has committed 70,000 frontline troops to the Syrian civil war although the regime is careful to send Afghan refugees who have sought sanctuary in Iran, to die on the Syrian battlefields as cannon fodder. Their widows are then offered full Iranian citizenship and a meagre pension by way of compensation.
The IRGC finances, arms and leads most of the brutal Shi’ite militias rampaging through the predominantly Sunni provinces of Iraq, massacring families and levelling ancient cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul in the name of the war against Daesh (ISIS). The Iranian regime's violence and crimes in other countries in the region and in particular its suppression of the Sunnis, carried out under the banner of fundamentalist Shi’ite Islam, is what provoked the original backlash that in turn spawned the birth of groups like Daesh who seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” while spreading their violence, brutality and hate to the four corners of the globe.
I was delighted to see that on Tuesday 25th July, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (419-3) in favour of imposing new sanctions on the Iranian regime, including the blacklisting of the IRGC. These sanctions must now be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump and I’m sure they will be. The listing of the IRGC as a terrorist organisation will have a massive impact on the mullah’s regime, as it controls around 70% of the Iranian economy. This is another huge victory and is something we have fought for over many years.
Iran cannot be part of the solution to the conflicts raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is part of the problem. Iran exports terror. This is the real Iran under the theocratic and fascist rule of the mullahs, whose so-called ‘moderate’ president Rouhani the West believes it can do deals with. We should wake up! The ‘smiling’, Rouhani is in charge of a venally corrupt government, which has executed over 3500 people since he took office in 2013 and which is behind every conflict in the Middle East.
As I said in Paris, the easiest way for the American government to signal a new, tough strategy for dealing with the mullahs would be for President Trump to invite Mrs Rajavi to Washington. That would shake the turbaned tyrants in Tehran to the core!
Mrs Rajavi is the outstanding symbol of anti-fundamentalism and her manifesto for freedom, justice, human rights, women’s rights, an end to torture and the death penalty and an end to the nuclear threat, is something that we should all unite around internationally. I strongly recommend that the West should be entering into dialogue with the political coalition that is the NCRI, rather than pussyfooting around with the mullahs in Tehran.
We have to stop the constant abuse of human rights in Iran. Quite apart from the daily torture and executions, many journalists and human rights activists are in jail. Women campaigners have been given long-term prison sentences. Ethnic and religious minorities like the Kurds, the Baha’is and the Christians are brutally persecuted. Such executions and repression just show how weak and unstable the mullahs are.
Rouhani’s government, under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, condones torture and arbitrary imprisonment, discriminates against women and encourages public floggings, eye-gouging, amputations and hanging as a means of terrorizing its own population into docile submission.
Of course to this day one of the biggest targets for arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution in Iran is the PMOI. Supporters of the PMOI face a mandatory death sentence under the Iranian Constitution for ‘Waging War Against God!’ You all know about the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners mostly from the PMOI. The current Justice Minister of Rouhani’s government was one of the key executioners in Tehran during the 1988 massacre and now he says he is proud to have killed so many PMOI members. The other key murderer in charge of the 1988 slaughter was Ebrahim Raisi, the black-turbaned mullah who Ayatollah Khamenei is cultivating as a future Supreme Leader, ready to take over from him when he dies.
It is incredible that we in the West believe it is acceptable to have so-called ‘constructive dialogue’ with murderers and butchers like this, who are still in powerful positions in the leadership of Iran today. These people must be indicted for crimes against humanity and brought to justice before the international court in The Hague. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High representative for Foreign Affairs & Security should stop her business-as-usual approach to Tehran. She should be shouting in anger and condemnation at the human rights abuse and repression against women that takes place in that country on a daily basis. We are planning a great rally in Trafalgar square and a march on the Houses of parliament on Saturday 2nd September, to demand action against the mullahs for the horrific massacre in 1988.
In the years I have been working closely with the Iranian resistance, I have found them to be a truly democratic force. They don’t want anything for themselves. What they want and what they fight for is liberty and justice for 80 million Iranian citizens.
Of course the Iranian regime is really paranoid about this opposition movement. Whenever Mrs Rajavi is invited to any parliaments in the EU, the regime and its lobbies go crazy and try to block such visits. Due to my support for the NCRI, I was under constant pressure not just from the Iranian embassy in Brussels, but also from officials in the EU and even from our own government here in the UK. On several occasions when I was an MEP the British foreign office sent people from London to Brussels to try to convince me to stop supporting the NCRI. This key Iranian opposition movement is of course under a constant bombardment of misinformation by the mullah’s regime.
Now let me say a few words about the Ashrafis – our dear brothers and sisters in Albania. As you all know, we had a major victory when all Iranian opposition members were transferred from Camp Liberty in Iraq to Europe. The vast majority of them are now in Tirana. The mullahs wanted to eliminate all of the people in Liberty or make them surrender, so it was a terrific victory to see all of the remaining Ashrafis flown out to the Albanian capital Tirana.
It enraged the mullahs. This is another example of the strength of the opposition and the weakness of the regime, because the mullahs were determined to kill or arrest many Liberty residents and they failed to do so, which demonstrates how fragile the regime has become.
We should remember that all our activities in Europe or the USA, the many meetings and rallies that you regularly attend, worked like a political shield for our Ashrafi brothers and sisters. If we had stayed quiet during the last decade, I have no doubt that the mullahs could have managed to eliminate the Iranian resistance members in Iraq. Your activities in different countries and our activities in the European Parliament and other parliaments, along with the resistance of the Ashrafis themselves and especially the brave leadership of Mrs Rajavi, were the main reasons for this victory. On each occasion when I have visited the Ashrafis in Albania I have promised them to continue to fight for a free, democratic Iran. But there are still major challenges we have to face in Albania. The UNICEF funding, brokered by the Americans, will end shortly.
As you can imagine, the cost of supporting over 3000 Ashrafis in Tirana is immense and I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for the help and aid you have provided. Without your help our brave brothers and sisters would be facing real difficulties. But we need that help to continue now, more than ever. Our Iranian brothers and sisters in Albania have no visas. They are not allowed to work and support themselves, which they would be more than capable of doing. Until their situation as refugees is clarified, they must rely solely on outside aid, so anything and everything you can do to help will always be greatly appreciated by these courageous people who have been on the front line for so long of our battle for freedom and justice and who have suffered enormously.
So please let me repeat my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your constant, unflagging support over the years. The reality is that the Iranian resistance have always relied on their own Iranian supporters and thousands of UK, EU and US citizens who have contributed to the movement. Every pound, euro or dollar that’s been raised, every signature that’s been placed on a petition of support, every little standing picket or big rally, every book stall in the city centre, has been a help and contribution for peace and freedom, not just in Iran, but for the whole world.
You, my dearest friends in this big family who support the Iranian resistance, all of you who have stood side by side with this opposition movement, you have broken the mould. You may know that I have worked closely with the Iranian opposition during the past 16 years. I know many of them personally. They are people who had everything, the best education, the best opportunities for having a decent and prosperous life…but every one of them made a choice. They made a choice to make this self-sacrifice, which is why I named my book on the Iranian Mojahedin – ‘SELF-SACRIFICE’.
My dear friends, do not forget that this is a very weak and rotten regime. As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is teetering on the edge of a cliff. It is our job to give it a final push. As Mrs Rajavi has said We Can and We Must overthrow it. I am certain that the Iranian regime’s days are numbered. Freedom and justice for the people of Iran is coming and it will come soon. When it does so, I will be proud to remind my children and grandchildren that ‘I AM AN ASHRAFI.’
Thank you very much.